Frederick Delius

On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, tone poem for orchestra (Pieces for small orchestra, No. 1), RT vi/19/1

    Description by Adrian Corleonis

    Grieg was the first musician of stature to recognize Delius' genius, and his recommendation was decisive in persuading the composer's father to allow young Fritz -- as he was known then -- to pursue music as a career. The two became close friends, and Delius visited the Griegs often on his walking tours of Norway until syphilis, which rendered him a complete invalid by the early 1920s, began its ravages. In 1912, Delius completed Song of the High Hills, for large orchestra and wordless chorus, in a monumentally exalted tribute to those happy Wanderjahre. Then he turned immediately to the composition of what has become his most popular piece, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, which takes up No. 14 of Grieg's Norwegian Folk Tunes, Op. 66 ("In Ola Valley") and works upon it the magic of the Delian miniature. About seven minutes long, First Cuckoo is a fluent meditation on Grieg's piece, a sort of musical free association in which the melody is broken into phrases and each phrase is developed, garbed in glowing new color, and lingered over as the clarinet laconically iterates the cuckoo's drooping call. The result is at once blithe, elegiac, and rife with nostalgia -- the frail Grieg had passed on in 1907. First performed in Leipzig under conductor Arthur Nikisch with Summer Night on the River on October 23, 1913, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring was published by Oxford University Press as the first of the Two Pieces for Small Orchestra.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 ABC Classics
    2018 Somm SOMMCD 269
    2017 ABC Classics
    2017 ABC Classics
    2017 ABC Classics
    2017 ABC Classics
    2016 Sony Classical 88985357942
    2015 ABC Classics 4811143
    2014 Naxos 857828182
    2014 Chandos CHSA 5131
    2014 San Francisco Symphony 0060
    2013 Warner Classics
    2013 Berlin Classics 0300426BC
    2012 Warner Classics 667007
    2012 Warner Classics 673150
    2012 Decca
    2012 SOMM SOMM 0112
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099944030
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099968052621
    2011 Danacord DACOCD 717
    2011 Decca 4783078
    2011 Royal Philharmonic Masterworks RPM 28740
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099908421029
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099967816620
    2011 EMI Classics
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099963160
    2010 Signum Classics 243
    2010 Signum Classics / Signum UK 240
    2010 Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 28650
    2010 ABC Classics 4764061
    2010 ABC Classics 4764026
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926431
    2008 Warner Classics & Jazz 2564696677
    2008 RCA Red Seal 722378
    2007 Pulse / Castle Pulse / Sanctuary 557
    2007 Ground Floor 034
    2007 Apex
    2007 EMI Music Distribution 508309
    2006 Pulse 648
    2005 Chandos CHAN241-28
    2005 Decca 000550402
    2005 Vanguard Classics 1773
    2003 EMI Music Distribution
    2003 BIS 1347
    2003 Griffin 4038
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 75790
    2002 EMI 5751942
    2002 Metronome 2022
    2002 ASV PLT8506
    2002 BBC Music 4100
    2001 Philips / Philips 4652352
    2001 Decca 470 190-2
    2000 Herald Records HAVPCD 242
    2000 Platinum Disc 1132
    1999 Platinum Disc 1122
    1999 Decca 460290
    1999 Intersound / Reference Gold 3624
    1998 Platinum Disc / Platinum Entertainment 1057
    1998 Direct-to-Tape 9801
    1995 IMP Classics 14
    1994 Saga Records EC3353-2
    1992 Chandos CHAN6502
    1991 CBS Masterworks / CBS Records MFK 46356
    Beulah 1PD4
    ABC Classics 4766955
    ABC Classics 4766813
    The Gift of Music 1068
    Direct-To-Tape 2001
    In Classical Mood 12007
    Saga Records 9044
    Musical Heritage Society 532862
    HMV Classics 568484